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Finally Some Justice in Upper Big Branch Mine Tragedy: Former Massey Energy CEO Blankenship Convicted of Conspiracy

Photo courtesy Rainforest Action Network on Flickr

More than five years after 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., justice was finally served as former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was found criminally guilty for a conspiracy to willfully violate the Mine Safety and Health Act. While the tragedy was the largest loss of life in a mine accident in the United States since 1970, numerous other workers have lost their lives in Massey mines.

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Is Justice Finally Here for Mine Workers and Their Families? Winners and Losers of the Week

Is Justice Finally Here for Mine Workers and Their Families? Winners and Losers of the Week

In our regular weekly feature, we’ll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.

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Former Massey Energy CEO Indicted

For those of you who have been following the Massey Energy story, the Mine Workers (UMWA) passed along this news yesterday: U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging Donald L. Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., with four criminal offenses. The indictment charges Blankenship with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and securities fraud.

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'It's Ruined Me'

For a heart-breaking look at how the Republican-engineered dysfunction at the National Labor Relations Board is affecting working men and women, check out Dave Jamieson’s weekend piece in The Huffington Post.

Jamieson chronicles the nine-year ordeal of union coal miners at the Cannelton mine near Smithers, W.Va., who lost their jobs when Massey Energy (since purchased by another mining company after the notorious Upper Big Branch disaster) bought the mine.

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Former Massey Official Implicates Blankenship in Scheme to Skirt Mine Safety Laws

Talk Radio News photo/flickr

The former president of a Massey Energy subsidiary, who also served for 20 years in top positions throughout Massey, implicated former Massey CEO Donald Blankenship in a long-term scheme to hide mine safety violations from federal inspectors.

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Upper Big Branch Superintendent Sentenced

Photo by Rana X/Flickr

A mine superintendent at the former Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine, where 29 coal miners were killed in 2010, will serve 21 months in prison for his role in disabling a methane monitor that automatically shuts down a coal cutting machine when dangerous levels of the explosive gas are detected. As part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Gary May also will pay a $20,000 fine.

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UMWA: On Anniversary of Upper Big Branch, Keep Families in Your Prayers

Today, April 5, is the second anniversary of the disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine where an explosion that mine safety experts say could have been prevented killed 29 coal miners. Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts says, “Today is a day for us to pause and think about the families…. Let us continue to keep the families of the victims in our hearts and our prayers.”

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Massey Official Pleads Guilty in Upper Big Branch Case

A former superintendent at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine, where 29 miners were killed in an April 2010 explosion, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to violate federal mine safety laws. He faces up to five years in prison.

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Upper Big Branch Shows Need for Stronger Whistle-Blower Laws, Tougher Penalties

Upper Big Branch Shows Need for Stronger Whistle-Blower Laws, Tougher Penalties

If deadly mine disasters like 2010’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) that killed 29 coal miners are to be prevented, miners must have stronger protections to report safety violations, mine safety law must be stronger and mine operators must face tougher penalties for violating safety and health laws, witnesses told a House hearing yesterday. 

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MSHA Admits Failures in Upper Big Branch Inspections

The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA's) enforcement effort and practices at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine had a number of significant failures before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, according to MSHA’s own report on its actions released today.

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